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Naim NAC N 272 Review

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The NAC-N272 is a hugely talented unit that delivers top-class sound with an extensive features list

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There are only two things you need to know about the Naim NAC-N 272: it’s a fully featured streaming preamp and it sounds lovely.

We could conclude what would be the shortest review in What Hi-Fi?’s 40-year history right here, but that would leave us a rather blank page, so let us elaborate.

Streaming preamp? This may not seem particularly special. After all there isn’t a shortage of music streamers that also have a volume control. The NAC-N 272 isn’t like most of them though.

It uses a fully analogue preamp section, much like the designs seen in Naim’s more upmarket offerings, so performance through the analogue inputs – one DIN and two RCAs – has the potential to be really good.

Most rivals tend to prioritise the digital circuits, leaving the quality of the analogue section distinctly second best. That certainly isn’t the case here.

MORE: Naim launches NAC-N 272 streaming preamplifier


Naim has long been a fan of DIN connections, believing that they sound better than the RCA alternatives.

There was a time when the company’s products only sported DINs, but thankfully this attitude has become far less dogmatic over the last decade and a half.

This is also a forward-thinking unit, so there are digital inputs. There’s a good range of optical and coax connections alongside aptX Bluetooth.

Bluetooth would have been unthinkable in high-end products just a few years ago, but now an increasing number of manufacturers are waking up to the fact that wireless connectivity is a good thing.

MORE: AptX Bluetooth HD: What is it? How can you get it?

Naim being Naim, a great deal of engineering has been undertaken to avoid such features spoiling the sound. The digital and analogue sections communicate through optical isolation chips to minimise any interference.

As is usual for the company, plenty of care has been taken in getting the circuit layout right and the power supply arrangement just so. Even so, the N 272, like other Naim products, is easily upgradeable through one of the company’s outboard power supplies.

These aren’t cheap – starting at £1800 for the XP5 XS, all the way up to £6k for the 555PS – but in our experience the sonic improvement tends to be obvious.

MORE: Naim Label review

The unit’s outputs mirror the connectivity of the analogue inputs by offering both DIN and RCA option. There’s also a line level output if you want to use the NAC-N 272 as a stand-alone streamer and plug it into your existing amplifier.

This is a well-specified unit. It’ll stream at a maximum of 24-bit/192kHz across your network and handle DSD 64, should you have such files. All the main file formats are covered from FLAC and AIFF right through to Apple Lossless.

Spotify Connect is built-in as is native support for Tidal, and if that isn’t enough then there's the big wide world of internet radio to enjoy. Analogue radio fans haven’t been forgotten in the fast-flowing current of streaming; there’s an optional DAB/DAB+/FM module available too.

MORE: Best music streaming services 2016


Build quality is as solid as we’ve come to expect from Naim. The N 272 doesn’t feel particularly luxurious but does give off a no-nonsense air that suggests a focused, well-engineered design.

The front panel control count is low for a product like this, and is backed up with a clear display that’s large enough to read from across a room, even in bright lighting conditions.

The N 272 is straight-forward to set up. Its menus are easy to use and it connects to our network swiftly. While going wireless is an option we always prefer going the wired ethernet route as it intrinsically offers greater stability.

While Naim supplies a standard remote with the 272, we think users will be better served with the company’s control app. This has gone through numerous evolutions and on the whole works well.

Android and iOS versions are available, and there’s no great difference in performance between them. The app is well laid out and pretty easy to use.

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